Press conference on the return flight from Panama to Rome
APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO PANAMA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 34th WORLD YOUTH DAY
PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE RETURN FLIGHT FROM PANAMA TO ROME
Sunday, 27 January 2019
Holy Father, during the Way of the Cross, on Friday, a young man said some very strong words about abortion; I want to repeat them for a moment: “There is a tomb that cries out to heaven and denounces the terrible cruelty of humanity, it is the tomb that opens in the wombs of mothers from whom an innocent life is torn. May God allow us to truly humanize ourselves, to firmly defend life and ensure that the laws that kill innocent life are erased forever”. This is a very radical position, in my opinion. I wonder, and I would like to ask you, if this position also respects the suffering of women in this situation and if it corresponds to your message of mercy.
The message of mercy is for everyone, even for the developing human person. It is for everyone. After this failure, there is mercy as well, but a difficult mercy, because the problem is not in giving forgiveness, the problem is in accompanying a woman who has come to the realization she has had an abortion. These are terrible tragedies. Once I heard a doctor talking about a theory according to which – I don’t remember well… a cell of the newly conceived fetus goes to the marrow of the mother and there is also a physical memory there. This is a theory, but it means: a woman when she thinks about what she did…. I tell you the truth: you have to be in the confessional, and you have to give comfort there, not punish anything. That is why, out of mercy, I have granted the faculty to absolve [from the sin of] abortion, because many times – indeed always – they have to meet with their child. And many times, when they cry and have this anguish, I counsel them: “Your child is in heaven, talk to him, sing him the lullaby that you did not sing, that you could not sing to him”. And there is found a way of reconciliation for the mother with her child. With God it’s already there: it’s God’s forgiveness. God always forgives. But mercy also means that she [the woman] should work this through. The tragedy of abortion. To understand it well, one must be in a confessional. It is terrible.
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